TGJ: The Scales of Justice by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

Tiger heard Blake calling in the distance, “Tiger, where are you?” The swirling snow made it hard for Tiger to see. He raised his hands in front of his face, and the stinging of the snow abated somewhat. He began to walk toward Blake’s voice and called out to him. It was hard to tell if he was getting nearer or farther away from Blake. Then he heard Blake call from nearby. Tiger turned and saw him come into view through the swirling snow. They were both happy to see each other and hugged with pure joy. Blake asked Tiger where they were. Tiger wasn’t sure, but he had a feeling they would soon find out.

Tiger said, “Let’s get moving!” and the two boys headed off into the snowstorm. After they had been hiking for an hour or so, the storm settled to a light snowfall, and the two boys
could finally see where they were headed. There was a canyon in the distance that appeared to be a good place to find shelter. As they neared the pass and began moving into the canyon, the light grew dim, and the mountains closed in around them.

Tiger and Blake both needed a rest. They had been traveling for a long while so they
decided to stop to rest and eat. They found a sheltered area and made themselves as comfortable as possible. Blake took hard tack from his pack and passed a large piece to Tiger. After eating, they drank from the clear stream that ran through the canyon.

The boys resumed their journey. As they turned a corner, they saw a huge scale. It looked
like one that Tiger had seen in an antique store he had visited with his mom not long ago, but it was enormous. Upon each of the plates that hung from the beam were twenty life-sized figures.

Along the top of the scale, the word JUSTICE was carved into the stone. The boys walked
towards it, amazed by its sheer size. As they drew closer, they could see staircases, which wound up the rock wall near each plate.

Tiger felt nervous.

Blake asked, “What do you think this is?” Tiger was not sure.

Blake started to climb the staircase. Something told Tiger this was a bad idea. He asked
Blake to stop, but Blake kept climbing. When he had reached the top, Tiger begged him again to stop, but Blake said, “They’re nothing but a bunch of old statues of knights and Kings.”

Blake stepped onto the closest metal plate. At first nothing happened, and then ever so
slowly the scales began to tip with Blake’s plate moving downward. And with the tipping came a cracking sound, as the figures began to glow red, and then to move.

Tiger yelled to Blake to jump, but as Blake turned to head back to the staircase, a knight
thrust his lance out to block him. A voice bellowed, “Who dares to disturb the scales of justice? You have stepped into a fight that is eternal, the fight for justice, and you have upset the balance. Now there will be war!”

Suddenly a loud boom echoed through the canyon. The knights had raised their lances
and were driving them down hard onto the platform. Simultaneously, the foot soldiers crashed their swords against their shields.

When Tiger thought it couldn’t get any louder, the noise doubled. To his dismay he saw
that the army on the other scale was also very much alive and brandishing weapons. These figures were glowing blue and glaring down at the Red Army that Blake had inadvertently joined. The clashing of metal against metal grew deafening. The Red King cried “silence!” and suddenly all was quiet but the running water.

Then the Blue King spoke, “Red Army, why have you disturbed the balance? You know
the consequences when Justice is not kept in balance. There will be war.”

Tiger could see that the situation was quickly getting out of hand. He didn’t know what to
do but thought that maybe he could try to calm the situation. In his most powerful voice, Tiger said, “Excuse me your highnesses.” It was suddenly silent again as all eyes turned to look at Tiger. A bolt of uncertainty shot through him.

“Who are you?” Red and Blue Kings said as one.

“I am Tiger. I’m on a journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader, and my friend Blake is accompanying me.”

“Leave us,” the Red King said. “We have a battle to wage so that the scales of justice may be balanced. One or more of us must be sacrificed for the sake of Justice”.

At that moment, a staircase appeared, connecting the two sides of the scale. The red knights raised their lances and the red soldiers held their swords, as they turned to face the inevitable onslaught from the Blue Army.

Tiger sensed that the situation had gone from bad to worse, so he took matters into his own hands. As fast as he could move, Tiger ran up the staircase to the side of the Blue Army. Because the scales had tipped, he had to make a mighty leap to reach the platform and as he landed, Tiger kiaed as loud as he could. Once again all eyes turned to Tiger, and very slowly the scales started to move back into balance.

A look of confusion passed across the faces of the two Armies.

The Blue King spoke first, “What have you done? You have denied us our honor. The
scales have been tipped. Justice must be served. But now we don’t know what to do, because although the scales are back in balance, we cannot return to our restful state. There are too many people on the scales. We must eliminate one from each side.”

At that, the nearest knight grabbed Tiger.

The Red King spoke, “I agree justice has not been served. Tradition says that we must fight until we are at our original number. I demand battle.”

With that, all of the soldiers beat their shields.

Tiger sensed that he must act or all would be lost. He cleared his throat and began to speak, “A fight without reason does not serve justice. My sensei says that a peaceful warrior is one who has great skill but does not need to fight, because he has learned that there is no winner in a fight where even one person gets hurt.”

The Kings looked at Tiger and seemed to be getting even angrier. He pressed on. “I don’t know why you have battled in the past, but perhaps you can solve the problem before you
without a battle today.”

The two Kings looked at each other with great distaste, but Tiger could see that they were
thinking hard. Neither King seemed to want to speak first, but finally the Blue King said, “The sands of time have hidden from us the reason that we choose to fight. I just know that it has always been so.”

“I too have searched my thoughts,” said the Red King, “and cannot recall why we have
such great animosity for each other. It has always been this way.”

Tiger saw a glimmer of hope and slowly eased out of the grasp of the knight who held
him. “Sensei has taught me that there is no justice in a fight which has no purpose. If you will allow me and my friend to leave in peace, it would serve justice better than to have us come to harm.”

The Red King looked at Tiger and said, “You have shown much bravery today. You leapt
into a battle that you had no part of to save a friend. You brought the scales back into balance. You have shared wisdom with all of us. But how do you propose to return us to our slumber? There are still too many to keep us in balance.”

Tiger looked at the King and said, “If you will allow my friend and I to step off the scales
together, your numbers will be restored, and you will return to your slumber.”

The two kings looked at each other. Then the Blue King tipped his scepter to show his
agreement. He then turned to Tiger and told him: “Take your leave of us as we are weary from the ages and the battles we have fought to keep the Scales of Justice in balance. We will try this new approach.”

Tiger looked at Blake. The knight raised his lance to clear Blake’s path to the stairs. Tiger
nodded to Blake to signal that they should step off the scales at the same time. For a moment the two armies stood looking at the boys. They looked very tired. Suddenly there was a flash of purple light as the two armies merged together, then disappeared.

Tiger and Blake stood looking at the empty scales. They didn’t know what had happened, but they had the sense that the two armies had found peace.

Later they consulted their map and found the word JUSTICE and a dove with the Scales
of Justice in its beak. When he saw this, Tiger realized a truth that had escaped him until now.

Peace is the result of justice being served.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15, 000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will, too.


TGJ: Able to Respond by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

“Students,” Sensei said, “the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait we will be developing this week is Responsibility. Here at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools we look at the root of the word responsibility and we see ‘able to respond’. With that thought, Team Leaders, please take a couple of minutes and discuss with your teammates the meaning of responsibility. Then prepare to share with the rest of us what you talked about.”

The students engaged in a lively discussion for several minutes. It went on a little longer than Sensei thought it would, but he could see that the teams were really getting into it, so he let it go. After some time had passed, Sensei called the class to order.

“Jerry, please tell us what your team was talking about,” asked Sensei. Jerry was the Team Leader of the Velociraptors, a three-person team that included Fabian and Kenji.

“Remember, Jerry, that when you speak you are addressing the whole class and not just talking to me.”

Jerry stood up and took two steps towards the front of the room so that he could be seen and heard better by all the students. Jerry had studied responsibility before and he knew that he was being responsible right now by putting himself in a position where he could be easily seen and heard. Sensei noticed this, too, and smiled inside, because when Jerry first came to Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools he challenged everybody and was headed for trouble. Now here he was not only acting responsibly but about to lecture the class on responsibility. It was a transformation.

“We said that being responsible means being trustworthy and dependable,” began Jerry.
“It means that people can count on you to do what you say you’ll do when you say you will do it. It means that you are able to respond in the way you say you will.”

“Thank you Jerry. That was perfect,” replied Sensei, as Jerry proudly turned and moved
over to sit down with his team.

“Tiger, tell us what your team talked about.”

Tiger stood up and moved to where the other students could see and hear him and began.
“Taking responsibility for something means that you will make sure something will happen or won’t happen. The reason we take responsibility so seriously here at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools is because in self-defense, if you are not able to respond to an attack you may be seriously hurt or end up dead.”

“Excellent, Tiger,” said Sensei as he sat down.

“And it’s not enough,” Sensei continued, “to just know what responsibility means; we have to be responsible every day. Can someone give me an example of being responsible at

Hands shot up. Sensei called on Sara, who stood up and made sure she could be seen and
heard. “My mom wants me to look after my little sister when she has to run errands or do stuff. I like to do it, and my mom always thanks me and says I’ve been responsible when she comes home. And my little sister can be a real pain.” All the students laughed.

“One more example, and then we’ll start training,” said Sensei.

Hands shot up again and this time Sensei called on Erik.

“Feeding my dog—my dad says I’m being responsible when I feed my dog,” Erik answered.

“Erik,” Sensei said, “Feeding your dog is another way to be responsible.” Then Sensei called on Harerta, the Class Leader, to have the teams spread out and get ready to practice. Harerta, in turn, told the Team Leaders to have their teams line up. She then walked back to
where the shoes were lined up on the floor and picked up a pair of shoes that had been thrown down instead of put in their place. She called to the class, “Whose shoes are these? They need to be arranged properly.” John, one of the new students, hurried over and, looking a little embarrassed, took his shoes from her and put them down neatly with the others. “Thank you,” Harerta said simply, not wanting to call any more attention to him.

Harerta then told the Team Leaders to perform an inspection. Each Team Leader
examined their members’ uniforms. A few students did not have their belts tied correctly. Others did not have the sleeves and cuffs rolled up properly. And one new student, Jim, even had his pants on backwards. When the class heard this, they all laughed and laughed. Harerta asked them to quiet down, then said to Jim, “You’re not the first student to put his pants on backwards, so don’t let it bother you.” And with that she sent him to the changing room.

After dinner and homework one evening, Tiger got out his Shoka Leader Handbook and
began looking at the requirements for Senior Class Leader. He had just earned his Class Leader rank and wanted to see what would be required of him to advance to the next level. He knew that he would be learning new skills and a new kata, and he was ready to go to work. Tiger felt that he was beginning to understand the responsibility that came with the knowledge and skills he was learning. He looked at the list of requirements and saw that some of them were repeats of previous requirements. He knew this was because these were important and needed to be stressed over and over. The ones that were new to him he read more carefully.

One of the new requirements was to pick a school rule and explain it to his Assistant
School Leader how it might be interpreted differently by different people. An Assistant School Leader had previously explained to the class that recognizing that people see things differently was an important part of being fair and would help others settle their differences.

The next new requirement was to tell a story about how he used good manners to make
others feel better. He knew good manners could make others feel better, because the other day at his school when he saw Sally struggling to get out a door with a heavy box, he opened it for her. She smiled at him and thanked him. He felt great about this and so did Sally. He also knew that bad manners make others feel bad towards you, because another time at school, Joey cut right in front of him at the drinking fountain and knocked him down. This made Tiger angry, and he wanted to shove Joey back.

Another new requirement was for Tiger to show his Assistant School Leader that he was
willing to help all the students in his class. He knew that this was part of being a responsible
Shoka Leader. There were some kids who were not well behaved and whom he’d rather ignore, but he had to figure out a way to support them, too.

Next on the list of requirements was the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of
Cooperation. He’d have to convince the students in his class to work together. Some kids already could do this, but there were a few who were still figuring it out.

He would also have to show his parents that he was becoming more of a leader by taking
the lead in accomplishing a home project. He remembered his dad moaning about all the
weeding that had to be done in the garden, so he thought weeding might be a good project to take the lead on.

One of the requirements was going to be very difficult. He knew what it meant to endeavor, but to endeavor in the face of six opponents attacking you at once would be really tough, but he was looking forward to learning and taking on this challenge.

Another requirement was to read the Niju Kun and be prepared to talk about one of the
twenty principles; he was to choose the principle that appealed to him the most. Tiger knew that Gichin Funakoshi was considered to be the Father of Modern Day Karate and a great man. He also knew that the Niju Kun was an important part of Gichin Funakoshi’s contribution to the world. So he wanted to give this the respect it deserved. He paged forward in the Shoka Leader Handbook and found the section on the Niju Kun and spent a few minutes reviewing it. He liked number twelve, the one that said, “Do not cling to the idea of winning; it is the idea of losing that is not necessary.” He thought about this and remembered that Sensei had talked about it recently. In defending yourself you didn’t have to beat up your attackers; you just had to not be beaten by them.

He was also going to be required to tell his class the Story of the Wooden Rooster and lead a discussion of the lessons contained in it. He loved to hear stories and wanted to be able to
tell a good story, so now was his chance to learn. But he didn’t know why storytelling and, in
particular, why the Story of the Wooden Rooster was so important to a Black Belt Shoka Leader. He made a mental note to ask his Assistant School Leader about this.

Tiger would also need to lead a class in the conditioning exercises. He remembered how some of the kids had been complaining about doing these exercises, and how hard they had been for him. He remembered how Sensei had stopped the class and asked them again if they wanted to be weak when they grew up or whether they wanted to be strong. Well, everyone wanted to be strong, and they all knew that to be strong you had to do things that were hard for you to do. They just didn’t want to be reminded of that. But they relented and went to work. When they were finished, Sensei thanked everyone for being such good students. He said that it was a joy for him to teach them. And the class knew he really meant it, because there was a sparkle in his eyes.

The last requirements were the karate requirements. Tiger would have to perform basics,
kata, and sparring. He was getting better at knowing the Japanese terms. Kihon, he had learned, meant basics. Kata was a series of movements against imaginary opponents. Kumite was an engagement with another student designed so that each student could improve. Often in kumite one student was the attacker, and the other was the defender. The objective was for both people to pretend that they were deadly enemies and to attack and defend with spirit and vigor. It was clear that in reality they were partners who wanted to help each other improve as much as they wanted themselves to improve.

All in all, working on these requirements was going to be challenging, but Tiger knew that once he had the skills he’d gain from completing these challenges that he’d have taken another step forward to being the Black Belt Shoka Leader who he wanted to be.

TGJ: Small in Comparison to the Vast Universe by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

It was a Thursday evening. As the clock stuck 6 pm, Aaron, the Class Leader, gave the
command to line up. The students who were ready quickly but calmly came onto the floor and began to organize themselves by teams. The students who were not ready moved a lot faster to avoid being late. Once all were in their places, Aaron gave the commands to face the guests, bow, turn, and face the front. Then he continued with the commands to sit in seiza, meditate, stop mediating, bow to the front, and bow to Sensei.

The students had learned that the front of the room was a special place called shomen, or
front. The reason Gichin Funakoshi and Masatoshi Nakayama’s pictures were on the front wall was because they had made major contributions to the art of Shotokan Karate. They were the karate ancestors, and showing respect to them was akin to showing respect to one’s parents, grandparents, and family elders who had done so much to make life better for others.

Also on the front wall were the American and the Japanese Flags, because this was the
United States, but Shotokan Karate came from Japan. Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools
believe it is their duty to do all they can to maintain good relations between the U.S. and Japan.

After the warm-up exercises, Sensei came back out onto the floor and asked Aaron to discuss Humility with the class. Sensei was confident that he could turn this topic over to Aaron, because although Aaron was only ten years old, he had spent much time studying character traits, particularly the character trait of humility.

Tiger was very curious to hear what Aaron had to say because he knew that it wouldn’t be
much longer before he’d be doing what Aaron was doing right now. Also, Tiger thought humility meant to be put down and, if it meant that, he was confused as to why it would be a leadership trait.

“Humility,” began Aaron, “is the quality of being humble. And being humble means to see
yourself as small in comparison to the vast universe.”

Aaron explained that there was a lot of benefit to seeing yourself as being small. If people
thought of you as being insignificant, they would leave you alone. This didn’t mean that you
didn’t respect yourself or conduct yourself with dignity. It meant that when you looked at the world as a whole, you recognized that you were only a very small part. After all, there are nearly 7 billion people on earth and you are only one of them.

Sensei once asked students to think back one thousand years in the past to the people who
lived in this very part of the world. Then he asked the students, “Where are these people now? What has happened to their ideas and the things that they held dear? Some of them are still with us, and some of them have gone away. And that is what is going to happen to us. One thousand years from now, people may remember our ideas, but they will not remember the vast majority of us. People will know little or nothing about us. So it’s better to relax, do the best we can with our lives, but don’t get a big head about it.”

When Aaron finished talking about humility, Sensei thanked him for a job well done. Facing
the front of the room, Sensei said, “Let me add one more thought before Aaron has you begin your discussions. Once I lived in a house that didn’t have a shower, so we had to take baths every day. I used to take a cup and pour water over my head in order to rinse off. It was my habit to sit up straight when I did this. One day, the water was particularly hot, and it hurt as I poured it over my head. For some reason, I decided to lean forward and pour the water over the back of my head instead. When I did this, it didn’t hurt at all. This seemed strange, so I tried it again. I sat up straight, and poured the water over the top of my head, and it hurt. Then I bent over, and poured the water over the back of my head, and it felt warm and soothing. I repeated this several times and kept having the same sensation: hot and uncomfortable on the top of the head and warm and gentle on the back of the head. You see, this is the power of the bow. This is the power of humility.”

With that Sensei turned the students back over to Aaron to discuss in teams how they could
learn to be more humble through their training.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old.  His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981, with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

TGJ Continued: The Book of the Empty Mind by Marty Callahan

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

The Book of the Empty Mind 

In his imagination, Tiger had just finished practicing karate on the beach and was
walking along the waterline with his parents. They had walked for about a half hour, combing the beach for whatever they could find, when he saw an old man sitting very still in seiza, Tiger wasn’t sure if he had seen the man before, but he looked vaguely familiar. And seeing someone at the beach sitting in seiza was unusual, so it attracted Tiger’s attention.

As they got closer, Tiger could not help but look at him. He was sitting perfectly still, like
a statue. When he was close enough to see the old man’s face, Tiger was surprised to see that he was Japanese.

“Hello,” said the old man, and with that Tiger jumped. He wasn’t expecting him to speak.

Tiger recovered and then answered, “Hello, how are you?”

“I’m fine,” said the old man, “and how are you and your parents?”

Tiger’s dad said, “Fine, thanks. Come along, Tiger, let’s leave the gentleman alone.”

The old man said, “It’s no bother. I’m just taking a break from reading my book.”

When he said this, Tiger noticed a large, very old looking book in his lap.

“My name’s Tiger. What’s your name?”

The old man didn’t answer for a moment and then said, “I once had a name, but now
people just call me the Old Man.”

Tiger found this odd, and he asked him what he was reading.

Tiger’s dad said, “Tiger, don’t wear out your welcome.” To the Old Man, he said, “Sir,
my son could talk to you all day. Is it all right if he spends some time with you?”

The Old Man looked at Tiger and then looked at his dad, “Yes, I’m sure we’ll have a
delightful conversation.”

Tiger’s dad told Tiger they’d be leaving in twenty minutes. Tiger’s parents wandered
down the beach, laid out their blanket, and sat down. They were close enough to see, but not so close to hear the conversation Tiger was having with the Old Man.

Tiger asked the lingering question again, “What are you reading?”

“Why don’t you sit down,” replied the Old Man.

Tiger sat across from him.

“This book is quite old and very special. But first, tell me about your Shotokan Karate

Tiger looked at the Old Man with genuine surprise. “How do you know I practice
Shotokan Karate?”

The Old Man didn’t answer at first. Then he turned his head towards Tiger and said, “I
saw you.”

This confused Tiger, because where he had been practicing was a good half-mile from
here, so the Old Man could not have possibly seen him.

“Tiger,” began the Old Man, “what we see with our eyes is merely the surface of all there
is to see. I am sure that your sensei has talked to you about the empty mind?”

Tiger nodded.

“When you learn to empty your mind, you will see things that cannot be seen, you will
hear things that cannot be heard, you will smell things that cannot be smelled, you will taste
things that cannot be tasted, you will touch things that cannot be touched, and you will
experience things that others will never experience. You will come to know beauty and truth in a way that a common man cannot possibly know,” the Old Man said, as he continued to sit quietly.

“The teachers who told me this gave me this book. They knew that it would take a
lifetime to learn all there is from karate.”

Tiger was about to ask a question when the Old Man lifted his index finger as if to signal
to wait.

“I began my journey over one hundred years ago, and my teachers began their journey
one hundred years before that and their teachers one hundred years before that. Our history
extends back thousands and millions of years to the dawn of man.”

Tiger could no longer contain himself. “I’m studying to be a Black Belt Shoka Leader,”
he blurted out.

“I know,” said the Old Man.

Tiger sat for a moment to let this new information sink in. He was full of questions, but
he remembered one of the first lessons Sensei had taught him about self-control. Sensei had said, “When you are full of questions, stop and wait until your thoughts have settled and then ask the right question.”

Tiger let his thoughts settle and then asked, “Did you come here to see me today?”

The Old Man replied, “Yes and no. I came today, because I felt in my heart that it was
important to be here, but I didn’t know that I would meet you.”

Tiger smiled.

“Tiger, a few minutes ago we spoke of the empty mind. You will find, as you continue
with your training, that mastering this will be very important. As a youth who has just begun his journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader, you must realize that it is very difficult to clear away the thoughts in your head. But at the same time, it must be done.”

“Now,” said the Old Man “let’s talk about this book. It is called, The Book of the Empty
Mind. As I mentioned, it was given to me by my teachers, and it is a priceless resource for the person studying to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. To use this book you must open your mind and become quiet inside. The experiences you will have will be quite vivid, so keep your spirit strong.”

Tiger asked, “What are the journeys you’ve taken? How do you know where you will go?
Will I take the same journeys you took?”

The Old Man smiled; he saw the same excitement and enthusiasm in Tiger, which he had
experienced when he first found out about the book.

“The journey one takes when reading the Book of the Empty Mind is different for every
person, Tiger. The book will show you things that will be important on your journey. Where you go will have a lot to do with where you are. Every student needs to learn different lessons to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader.

“And to answer your final question, yes, in the proper time you will be able to use the
Book of the Empty Mind. But first we must discuss the concepts you must learn to be able to use a powerful tool like this.”

The waves broke calmly and steadily on the shore, as the Old Man took a meaningful

“Responsibility,” the Old Man continued, “is an important lesson to be learned from this
book. I must impress upon you, Tiger, that it is irresponsible to misuse this book. So here are the rules.

“First, you must learn the lessons meant for you from this book. The lessons are for the
person to whom the book is given. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Seek Perfection of Character, and it will challenge you immensely. Second, when you are called to, and you will know when the time has come, you must pass the book along. If you refuse, you will have broken the faith of the Black Belt Shoka Leader. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Be Faithful. You must complete the circle. Third, you must continue on despite whatever obstacles you might face, and you must share what you have learned with others. This lesson is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Endeavor. Fourth, you must recognize others for the contributions they make to your life. This is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Respect Others.”

At about this time, a strong wind began to blow sand across the shore directly towards the
Old Man and Tiger, but it circled around them, as though an invisible barrier surrounded and protected them. “And fifth, to harm others on a journey is never allowed. As Black Belt Shoka Leaders, we train to stop conflict, and you must exercise this principle as you find your way back from your journeys. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Refrain from Violent Behavior, and so you must strive to control your mind, body, and spirit in all situations.”

The Old Man paused and looked deep into Tiger’s eyes. Tiger felt an enormous strength
and resolve coming from the Old Man, and it took a major effort on Tiger’s part to hold his gaze. Tiger knew, then and there, that he was in the company of a true Black Belt Shoka Leader. It made him want this for himself even more than before. He understood how important it was for him to take this journey and become someone greater than he was right now.

Tiger was pulled out of his encounter with the Old Man by his father’s voice in the distance. “Tiger, it’s time to go. Let the gentleman get back to his reading.”

“Okay, Dad,” Tiger called out.

As he turned back to the Old Man, Tiger noticed how serene he seemed. The Old Man
smiled and spoke, “Tiger, I must ask you two very important questions: First, are you prepared to take on the responsibility of being a Black Belt Shoka Leader?”

Tiger didn’t hesitate. “Yes!” he replied.

“And, second, are you ready to commit all that you have to become a Black Belt Shoka

Again, Tiger’s answer was “Yes!”

Tiger looked at the Old Man. Until this day Tiger had not completely understood the
commitment it would take to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. But now he knew, and he made up his mind to make that commitment.

The Old Man picked the book up and held it in his hands. It had become a prized possession for him.

“Tiger, there is only one page in this book with writing on it. That page is inscribed with
the 12 Traits of a Black Belt Shoka Leader. They are Courage, Courtesy, Integrity, Humility,
Self-Control, Trust, Endeavor, Responsibility, Cooperation, Justice, Compassion, and
Creativity. These are the guideposts on your journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader; be mindful of them. The rest of the book is empty like the Empty Mind. It is your job to fill this book with the story of your journey as a Black Belt Shoka Leader. The book is large and thick to remind you to live a large, productive life and to make a difference in the world by bringing positive change through your leadership. The book is heavy to remind you of the weight of responsibility that comes with being a Black Belt Shoka Leader. Remind yourself of this every day as you use it as a vehicle for your Great Journey.”

The Old Man handed the Book of the Empty Mind to Tiger, who, upon accepting it,
became very much aware of the grave responsibility the Old Man had given him.

Tiger looked at the Old Man and bowed deeply.

Tiger said, “It’s time for me to go. Thank you very much for your words and this book.”

The Old Man nodded.

Tiger stood up, backed up two steps, and looked again at the Old Man who was smiling
at him. He was certain that he had seen him before, but he couldn’t place where or when. The Old Man then spoke for the last time. “Your sensei is a wise and capable man; listen to him carefully.”

Tiger smiled and turned and ran over to where his parents were waiting, somewhat
impatiently. As they started to walk in the direction of the car, he showed them the book the Old Man had given him.

They all turned back to wave at the Old Man, but he was nowhere in sight. “Where did he
go?” his mom said.

Tiger said nothing and felt the weight of the book as he held it tightly. He looked forward
to his Great Journey.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.